Inside Newcastle’s rental crisis as 96% of tenants can’t find rooms

The crisis is one I too was caught up in recently.

Room rentals are hard to come by at the moment (Image: Getty Images)

Last summer there weren't enough bodies to fill empty rooms in Newcastle.

The number of rooms to rent in the city hit record highs as young adults chose to stay hunkered down at parents' homes during the pandemic.

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Fast forward 12 months and the situation has flipped.

Go-to room rental app SpareRoom currently has a greater number of 'room wanted' ads than 'room available' ads for only the third time in six years.

The last time that trend happened was in September 2019 and, before that, August 2015.

The result has been a mad scramble for those looking to rent and it's one that this journalist knows all too well.

When looking for my own place in Newcastle this summer I spent a month trawling through rental apps and websites.

Every time I found a place that seemed suitable, it would be gone before I could even make contact.

SpareRoom, one of those apps I did turn to, told they have seen a 75% increase in demand vs supply when comparing 2021 to 2020.

Young people are active again after 18 months living with parents (Image: Getty Images)

Unsurprisingly, the experts point to "people moving out of parents' or friends houses, flatsharing after renting on their own or students returning back to cities" as a cause of that.

In most of those situations, the room from which the people are moving out from is not being added to the market - childhood bedrooms, for example.

That increase in demand, but unchanging level in supply, is what has caused the pressure - 96% of SpareRoom users wanting to move are currently struggling to find available rooms.

I was one of those 96% not so long ago.

When setting about my search for a rental I followed all the recommendations; setting up alerts; joining social media groups and asking around friends.

Every time I did find an option, I'd face a melee with a group of other prospective tenants.

One landlord told me he had received nine formal offers for one room in a matter of hours.

He seemed fed-up of the rush and told me: "I really wish I could help house more people but there is only one room available.

"I say this not as a profit seeker, but as a fellow human being who does not like to see others stuck for a roof over their heads."

At another place, a studio flat not far from Leazes Park, I had a three-minute video viewing and after the agent told me 10 people had seen it that evening, and it would be gone in an hour.

As well as being tough for tenants, SpareRoom reported that only 44% of landlords had confidence in the rental market in September 2021, despite the rush of interest.

Jonathan Parker, Head of Residential Lettings at Pattinson Estate Agents, said: "The current demand for rental properties is phenomenal and outstripping supply.

"The majority of our listed rental properties have multiple viewings and offers so it's not surprising that this demand is spilling over into the demand for room lets.

"This could be because tenants are unable to source properties at the right price, or simply because the properties aren't available, so they'll look at fallback options such as room lets - whether this be for student accommodation, first-time lets or because of the need to relocate for work."

For Matt Hutchinson, SpareRoom Director, it's no doubt the "pent up demand" of lockdown hitting the market.

He said: "Pent up demand, following 18 months of lockdown, restrictions and uncertainty, is being released back into the market.

"That’s coinciding with huge numbers of people who moved home for lockdown starting to look for their own places again.

"If people are largely moving within the market, rooms are taken, but also freed up as people move out.

"What we’re seeing is more people coming into the market – they’re not freeing up supply, just adding to demand. That creates the squeeze we’re seeing right now.”